No matter how far technology takes us, there is still no way to escape the need to avoid isolation and to connect with others. Loneliness and isolation are modern epidemics, according to some research findings and these two states are the polar opposites of the communion and connection that can arise from healthy sexual engagement with someone whose presence in your life, at that moment, matters.
We all learn early that sex is an evolutionary device that satisfies our innate drive to reproduce, yet reproduction isn’t the goal in the vast majority of sexual encounters. Humans are pleasure-seekers and just as we have been inspired to develop sophisticated palates and a variety of cuisines to satisfy the basic urge to take in nourishment, we have sought ways to add variety and flavor to our sexual activities in ways both gluttonous and epicurean. The desire for sensory delight is timeless and universal.
What do Thousands of People Know about Sexual Motivations?
In a study of over 4600 adults across the lifespan, Wyverkens et al. (2018) found that the top reason that we have sex, regardless of our age, is pretty simple…
Sex feels good. Period.
Men and women both pursue sexual engagement because of the pleasure it provides. However, there is also an emotional and relational component to the decision to have sex for a vast number of individuals, as well. Sex often feels the best when you feel like you are totally connecting with the person you’re with.
However, whether it’s a response to cultural expectations or a true difference between the genders, men were found to be more likely to seek sexual satisfaction to fulfil physical needs while women tended to view sex as a means to meet their emotional needs and, specifically, combat feelings of insecurity.
In addition, young men had more physical and utilitarian reasons for having sex than older men did and younger women were more likely to engage in sex as a way to express their emotions than older women did. The older we get, the more sexual engagement becomes something more layered and complex than a method of scratching an itch or proving oneself worthy. Men often use their sexual conquests as a way to prove their masculine appeal. Women, unfortunately, may feel as if their willingness to be sexually receptive is way to compromising their feminine worth, attractiveness, or value. This is how sex becomes a commodity – even within what are considered “healthy” adult relationships.
Hook-Up or Relationship, Many of us Want to be Close to our Partners
There have been enough studies conducted that give evidence that women like to cuddle and feel close to their partners every bit as much as, or more than, they enjoy the physical act of intercourse. Recent research (Garcia et al., 2018) has shown that even during a casual sex, one-night-stand, or hook-up setting, men and women both may engage in intimate, affectional behaviors such as cuddling, The need to feel a sense of closeness to another human being, even if the initial goal was simply to find sexual release, is just one more piece of evidence that humans need the touch of other humans in supportive, meaningful ways.
So, What is Hot Sex is All About? Being Present and Being MIndful.
If you are in a committed relationship, the emotional communion is a strong motivator to cement a physical communion, as well. For casual sex, pleasure may be the driving force, but mindfulness and presence can increase the pleasure that’s enjoyed (Khaddouma, 2015).
Mindfulness is made up of five basic traits: Observing, Nonjudging of Inner Experience, Describing, Acting with Awareness, and Nonreactivity to Inner Experience. These traits address the importance of being “tuned in” to what is going on with you at a specific moment in time. It’s about being “present in your body” and fully conscious of the experiences you are having at that moment.
Researchers have found that sexual satisfaction is influenced by the ability to be in a state in which you are fully aware of what you are observing with all of your senses — and, remember, we have five of them – sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste! This awareness coupled with the ability to refrain from judgment of your inner experiences, simply accepting what is felt, allows for ultimately satisfying sexual engagement. In fact, mindfulness exercises and practicing being fully present with your partner are excellent methods of enhancing sexual connection as well as therapeutic interventions for many sexual issues. Being present and mindful of the moment is essential for reaping the greatest pleasure from an encounter.
That speaks volumes about what makes a relationship healthy – honest and full-body, full-mind sexual communion coupled with the experience of letting go of judgment of feelings that might get in the way of being fully present with a partner.